TITLE: Logistics management specialist
COMMAND/ORGANIZATION: Program Executive Office for Combat Support & Combat Service Support
ACQUISITION CAREER FIELD: Logistics
YEARS OF SERVICE IN WORKFORCE: 19
MILITARY OR CIVILIAN: Civilian
AAW/DAWIA CERTIFICATIONS: Level III in program management and life cycle logistics, Member of the Army Acquisition Corps
EDUCATION: MBA and M.S. in industrial operations, Lawrence Technological University; B.A. in mathematics and business, Marygrove College
AWARDS: Detroit Federal Executive Board Recognition Certificate, 2019; Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, 2018; Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, 2016
Tiffany R. McCants
by Ellen Summey
Tiffany McCants is a proactive problem solver. In 2001, while the rest of the U.S. was grappling with an economic recession and rising unemployment, McCants was a junior in college. She was still a year from graduation with a degree in mathematics and business, but she saw the writing on the wall. “I had friends who were engineers, who couldn’t find work in their field, for years,” she recalled. So she started looking for internships to make herself more marketable to employers. That’s when she found out about the DOD Student Career Experience Program (now the DOD Internship Program), and she applied for a position in the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Integrated Logistics Support Center. “Honestly, I had no idea what TACOM was, or what they did,” she said. “I went in for an interview and I’d never been more nervous in my life. It’s so funny to think about, now.” Nervous or not, she must have done something right, because she got the job. And she’s been an Army civilian ever since.
Today, McCants works as a logistics management specialist for the Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support (PEO CS&CSS). “I call myself the fleet synchronization officer,” she said, “because that’s really what I do.” She works alongside the assistant PEO for Logistics, where she manages the planning and synchronization of a very large and diverse fleet of products. “It’s a lot of planning and synchronizing of the fleet, the funding and the requirements,” she said. “My work involves knowing the status of the fleet—age, condition, economic useful life—and helping the project managers analyze whether they should buy new or modernize their existing fleet, or a combination of both.” At PEO CS&CSS, the fleet consists of myriad driven and towed products, including trucks, trailers, construction equipment, cargo parachutes, heaters, air conditioners, battlefield kitchens, laundry units, generators and more.
“I have the primary responsibility of overseeing the Army equipping process that involves using enterprise tools such as the Decision Support Tool and the Army Equipping Enterprise System,” McCants explained. Collaborating with Army Materiel Command, Army Sustainment Command, Army G-8 (finance) and other PEOs, “we have been fully engaged and leading the way in the process; tracing funding to production, production to allocations and authorizations, and allocations and authorizations to fielding and accountability.”
The biggest challenge in her work—managing change. “I’ve seen a lot of changes during my career, and the Army is really, really changing now,” she said. “It’s an exciting time.” But change isn’t always easy. “It can be hard for people to change the way they do their jobs. It’s a culture and a mindset change that we have to accomplish.” McCants said automation is simplifying routine work in the PEO and across the Army, but “we have people still using spreadsheets and doing double work.” She has learned the value of converting the skeptics, rather than focusing all her efforts on early adopters or willing participants. “Once they see the value in what you’re doing, they will be your biggest ally,” she said. “When people see, ‘Oh, wow, that person used to be the biggest naysayer,’ then it’s not just coming from Tiffany.” Creating advocates for change is a challenge she readily accepts. “I always need a new challenge,” she said. “That’s just my personality.”
At times in her Army career, McCants has thought about leaving to take on new challenges in private industry, but she realized that wasn’t the right choice for her. So, why does she stay? “It’s the mission,” she said. “It’s something I believe in—making sure our Soldiers have the equipment they need to stay safe in their operational environment.” She has had the opportunity to stretch herself and develop new skills, working in nearly every project management (PM) office within the PEO, and she never takes that for granted. “That’s the best thing about working for the Army,” she said. “The sky is the limit.” Along the way, she has made a name for herself as someone who can be counted on to solve problems. “I enjoy that,” she said, “turning mayhem into something that looks like progress.”
In her spare time, McCants enjoys painting. It’s a talent she never knew she had, until she signed up for an art class in her community. “It opened up a new world to me,” she said. “It’s a great stress reliever, and I was able to tap into a side of myself that I wasn’t aware I had.” It also allows her to explore the possibilities without the fear or making a mistake. “When you’re in a PM, if you make a mistake, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and you may never live it down,” she said. But in art, the stakes aren’t quite so high. “In art, if you make a mistake, it could be like Bob Ross says, a ‘happy little accident.’ And it could actually be something beautiful.”
McCants shares similar advice with junior acquisition personnel, when she has the opportunity. “I tell them to take notes, ask questions, and never be scared to make a suggestion or try something new. Just because something hasn’t been done, doesn’t mean it cannot be done.” She said that many of the innovations in DOD today came from someone having a fresh, new idea, and she encourages others to think outside the box as well. And she imparts a little bit of that Bob Ross wisdom, saying “it’s OK to make a mistake.” But that’s where she parts ways with the America’s favorite art teacher. “In acquisition, you have to learn from your missteps and never make the same mistake twice.”
“Faces of the Force” is an online series highlighting members of the Army Acquisition Workforce through the power of individual stories. Profiles are produced by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center Communication and Support Branch, working closely with public affairs officers to feature Soldiers and civilians serving in various AL&T disciplines. For more information, or to nominate someone, please go to https://asc.army.mil/web/publications/army-alt-submissions/.
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